Expecting a new family member is an exciting occasion. But when preparing to welcome your new baby, the last thing you want to worry about is the pain and discomfort of labor. Fortunately, there are several tools you can use to improve your comfort and birth experience both before and during the big day, many of which you can find at St. Luke’s Health Family Birthing Centers.
A birthing ball is the same thing as an exercise ball. Using this tool throughout your pregnancy can help prepare your pelvic muscles for labor, open your hips, and encourage an optimal fetal position for your baby. Make sure to purchase a good quality ball that is appropriate for your height. Remember: when seated, your hips should be above your knees. If your hips are below your knees when using the ball, it’s either too small for your height or underinflated.
Many women use birthing balls to relieve pelvic pressure. The curve of the ball gently pushes against the pelvic opening, which can provide mild relief. This can be especially helpful in the third trimester. During labor, you can lean on the ball for mild relief from contractions. Taking weight off the back can be especially helpful if you experience intense back labor. Birthing balls can be used in many positions to improve comfort during labor, both alone or with a partner.
You can also use a birthing ball in the days and weeks following delivery with your doctor’s approval. The ball’s gentle pressure on the pelvic area can alleviate pain, particularly if you experienced perineal tearing. Many women sit on the ball while holding their babies, which has the added benefit of calming your new arrival, as well.
A birthing bar is an attachment for a labor bed that makes it easier for you to squat. These vertical positions allow gravity to help the baby get into position while you’re laboring and also help widen the pelvis by 20 to 30 percent. With the birthing bar, you lean forward onto the bar during contractions, allowing the bar to support the weight of your squat; between contractions, you can lean back onto the bed.
Water has long been used to relieve pain during childbirth. While you may have heard of underwater births in tubs, simply taking a warm shower during labor has been shown to decrease pain and speed up delivery. Many times, contractions can be more painful due to adrenaline and the overall stress of the situation. Warm water breaks this cycle of stress and pain. It encourages the production of endorphins and decreases adrenaline, leading to a more relaxed mom ready to continue the birthing process a little more comfortably. Many birthing suites at St. Luke’s Health Family Birthing Centers have private showers, giving you a great option that can improve your comfort during labor.
If you’re expecting, make an appointment with an expert OB/GYN at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group. They can guide you during your pregnancy and provide valuable advice for the birthing process. With fertility counseling, prenatal services, prepared childbirth classes, labor and delivery, and postpartum care, our doctors and staff are well-equipped to help you welcome your little one into the world. Take a facility tour at one of our Family Birthing Centers to start planning your birth day.
BabyCentre - Using a birthing ball
University of Minnesota - Birthing Positions
PregnancyAndBaby.com - How can water help relieve the pain of labor?